After 40 Years, Foreigner
Finally Knows What Love Is

By Shawn Perry

In 1984, Foreigner released a single called “I Want To Know What Love Is,” written by the band’s founder and guitarist Mick Jones. The power ballad was a bit of a departure for the band that formed in late 1976 as a crisp, radio-friendly six-piece unit with three Brits and three Americans. Nevertheless, it went on to become their biggest hit and cemented their legend. Forty years later, amidst various lineups, Foreigner truly knows what love is as they continue to tour the world and astound fans.

I met Jones and the rest of the band backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1988 during another 40th anniversary — that of the pioneering record label Atlantic Records. After the band played a few of their biggest hits, they came back to their dressing room and asked everyone within earshot to join them for the encore of “I Want To Know What Love Is.” Somehow, I ended up on stage, standing next to Phil Collins and Roberta Flack, singing the famous chorus.

When I interviewed Jones in 2009, I reminded him of that night in New York City, and he laughed as he told me about the trials and tribulations surrounding the band at that time. But what seemed to excite him the most was the current configuration of Foreigner, featuring a seasoned, yet youthful cast of musicians who have helped recharge their leader’s creative batteries. Eight years later, to borrow the title of Foreigner’s 2008 double-CD career compilation, there seems to be “no end in sight” for the veteran band.

To date, Foreigner has put 16 songs on the charts, including fan favorites like “Feels Like The First Time,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Juke Box Hero,” and, of course, their biggest hit of all, “I Want To Know What Love Is.” And thanks to continued interest and a solid lineup, the band is at the top of their game and celebrating their 40th anniversary in grand style.

I asked how Jones keeps it all going night after night, and he told me chemistry is a big part of Foreigner’s longevity. “We have some great musicians in the band,” he said. “I think it is powerful — there’s a surge of energy there.”

It’s all icing on the cake for a band that’s been celebrating four decades with shows around the country filled with surprises. On July 20, during their appearance at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre in Wantagh, New York, Foreigner was joined on stage by three original members — singer Lou Gramm, keyboardist Al Greenwood, and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald — for performances of "Long, Long Way From Home," "I Want To Know What Love Is," and "Hot Blooded". The night marked the first time Jones, Gramm, Greenwood and McDonald had all shared a stage together since 1980.

"It was great to have Lou, Al and Ian join us on stage last night, and certainly brought back some special memories," Jones exclaimed. "All the original guys are out there playing live shows and working on studio projects. A performance by the entire original band for a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction next year would be a great way to cap off our 40th anniversary celebrations."

For an outfit that’s been giving their all since 1977, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seems like a well-deserved cherry on top. According to Jones, it will be an honor he hopes to share with everyone who’s ever been part of Foreigner.

“We will all get together and have a good old jam that night.”

Fans can be part of the celebration by entering the Foreigner Tour Sweepstakes, sponsored by Mercury Insurance. By completing the registration form here by August 17, the winning fan gets to attend one Foreigner concert at three of the following cities — Las Vegas, NV, (August 29), Chula Vista, CA (August 29), Los Angeles, CA (August 30), Wheatland, CA (September 1), or Mountain View, CA (September 2).

Along with a pair of tickets to three shows, the lucky winner is given roundtrip airfare for two to each city, hotel accommodations for one night in each city, a VIP meet-and-greet with the band at each show, and tour merchandise. Roll and Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick open each show. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any Foreigner fan.

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